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Waterstones causes backlash by adding permanent adverts to its Kindles

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UK book retailer Waterstone has managed to irk a good portion of its Kindle buying customers by adding a permanent advert through an over the air system update.

The company, who is a rival to Amazon, sells several of the Kindle range, including the latest Paperwhite model. Recently the company sent out a firmware update to Kindle devices purchased either in store or online through them. The update sneakily adds permanent adverts to the device, much to the disgruntlement of users.

Amazon of course also includes adverts with Kindle devices purchased directly through their website, which is an option that subsidises the price of the device by £10. Users have the option to pay £10 on top of the device to be rid of adverts, so you’d think the case would be the same if you purchased through Waterstones, right? Well, actually, no. Even those who paid a tenner to be advert-free were lumbered with the adverts from Waterstones system update, which added further fuel to the flames.

The advert in question is a screensaver that will appear when the device is left unused for a period of time, and of course, advertises Waterstones. The Kindle itself usually offers a range of arty screensavers, but the Waterstones update seemed to remove these or make the advert default.

Naturally, customers complained to Waterstones, and were met with an email response from the company. The response was far from apologetic;

“it is our view that this screensaver does not constitute advertising and differs substantially to the advertising-supported Kindles available to the US market.”

However, the company did go on to say that”the change was made without consultation” and so customers who are unhappy with the change can return their Kindle to a store to get a full refund. Of course, the screensaver is advertising, however we’re sure many won’t really notice the screensaver as it only displays when the device is not in use.